Pelicans.com postgame: Raptors 108, Pelicans 101
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
TORONTO – It’s not easy to climb out of a double-digit deficit in the NBA and win a game. Doing it twice on the same night and still prevailing? Nearly impossible.
The New Orleans Pelicans dug themselves a 15-point hole in the first half of Monday’s road game against the Raptors, but managed to erase the entire gap and pull into a 49-all deadlock at halftime. The second half was a repeat of the first, with Toronto’s first unit again outplaying New Orleans’ starters, this time building a lead of 18 points. The Pelicans (22-29) mounted another significant rally and were within 87-86 with 6:35 remaining, but the Raptors’ final answer came in the form of a 15-3 surge that gave them a 102-89 lead at 2:44.
New Orleans was outscored in the first quarter 31-20, then in the third period by a 33-21 margin, as the team’s starting group started slowly in each half. It was therefore twice up to the reserves to get the Pelicans back in the hunt. The subs had one of their most productive games of 2013-14, combining to score 49 points. Tyreke Evans (23 points, 10-for-14 shooting, 10 assists) led the way with a double-double in 32 minutes.
“Our second unit really brought us back,” starting guard Eric Gordon said. “The second unit really attacked and was always in attack mode. Our first unit was a little bit stagnant. We weren’t getting to the basket and really didn’t have a rhythm knocking down shots.”
“Our first and third quarters were really bad,” Pelicans Coach Monty Williams said. “We didn’t get a lot of production from the starting group, on both ends of the floor. If you look at the box scores from those quarters, it was just a hole that we dug. Our second unit came in and gave us a lot of juice, a lot of effort. For whatever reason, we just didn’t the same zip that we typically have. It happens, but we’ve got to fight it.”
One exception to the below-average performance by the starters was Anthony Davis, who had 19 points and seven rebounds. Point guard Brian Roberts notched 18 points and like Davis, was 7-for-14 from the field.
Although it was too little, too late, the Pelicans also made Raptors fans who’d begun heading for the exits briefly reconsider in the final minute. Toronto seemingly had the game in hand, up by 10 points with just 1:16 left, but Roberts drained a three-pointer and Evans scored a layup off a Raptors turnover to make it 106-101 with 16 ticks to go. Toronto committed a turnover on the ensuing inbounds pass, setting up New Orleans with a chance to get it to a one-possession game. However, Davis couldn’t convert a layup attempt, which Toronto All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan rebounded. DeRozan sank two free throws at the other end, giving the Raptors their 108-101 edge with 13 seconds remaining.
“I just liked that our guys didn’t give in,” Williams said of the late comeback attempt. “We cut it to five, but just didn’t have enough to finish.”